Keepers' Diaries, July 2001

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Maungu, who was rescued from a trench dug on the Mombasa Pipeline near Maungu last month, has settled in very well. Being only 8 months old, she has 3 milk feeds a day, whereas the other orphans in their second year, which is a weaning year, only have two.

Maungu, who was rescued from a trench dug on the Mombasa Pipeline near Maungu last month, has settled in very well. Being only 8 months old, she has 3 milk feeds a day, whereas the other orphans in their second year, which is a weaning year, only have two.

The dry season is always a time of hardship and naturally the others envy Maungu this extra feed, but despite jealousy at milk feeds, she and Kinna have developed a strong friendship. Because of Maungu, the younger set known as Yatta's group" (Mukwaju, Yatta, Kinna and Nyiro) have been separated from the others to be with Maungu within the Headquarter perimeter fence until such time as Maungu can be trusted not to try and run off with a wild herd. Emily's group comprises Aitong, Loisaba, Tsavo and Mweiga (and usually Imenti, who comes and goes) and "Natumi's group" is comprised of the ex Nursery 1999 intake - Lolokwe, Natumi, Edie, Icholta, Salama, Laikipia and Ilingwezi) who went to join the others ahead of Yatta, Kinna and Mukwaju.

Emily's character has changed since the death of Malaika. She is now much more conscientious about her Matriarchal role, and it is interesting to see Loisaba joining Aitong in playing a part in keeping an eye on Tsavo, who remains the apple of Emily's eye. Mukwaju is becoming more boisterous, true to the form of the little boys, and is beginning to venture into the mud at the mudbath hour. However Salama still seems to hold the title of top dog, challenged frequently by Laikipia and Lolokwe. Natumi is a timid character, whilst Edie and Ilingwezi are more outgoing. Edie has the makings of a little "mother", very caring of those smaller. Ilingwezi is somewhat of a "prima donna" and has devised a way of getting the attention of the Keepers, lagging behind when all the others are rushing up to the Stockades, so that a Keeper has to come and encourage her to follow! The Big Boys continue to care for Uaso and Lewa, who have obviously upgraded themselves, preferring the company of them and the wild elephants rather than Emily's group. Being the dry season, they have been seen frequently, and Edo continues to bring Lewa and Uaso back almost daily. Dika and Ndume seem to be going more independent of one another now, Ndume having teamed up with two wild bulls, who have taught him how to negotiate the elephant grids and encouraged him to leave the boundaries of the Park to venture into the community area. This puts him very much at risk and the Trust has had to install electric "droppers" on the main road entrance grid and also on the grids of the perimeter fence in an attempt to deter these Bad Boys. Fortunately, Edo and Dika have not followed Ndume in breaking the rules, but Ndume has always been one of the most mischievous and adventurous of our orphans, even during his Nursery year. He has always liked "living dangerously"!

Nursery:- During the month, K.W.S. moved 51 elephants from Sweetwater's Ranch to Meru National Park in a bid to ease congestion. The loader carrying a cow and her calf got bogged during this exercise, and the revving of the diesel engine so traumatised the cow that upon arrival at the other end, she burst from the crate, leaving her baby behind. When an aerial search failed to locate the whereabouts of the mother, the calf had to be treated as an orphan, and was flown to Nairobi in a plane chartered by the Trust to join the other three Nursery inmates, namely Mulika (ex Meru), Nasalot (ex Turkana) and the mischievous little Ugandan, "Mweya".

We have named the newcomer "Sweet Sally"- "Sweet" to reflect her origin (Sweetwaters) and "Sally"in memory of a very brave supporter called Sally Dunne, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer aged 30, and died in May of this year, and whose friends requested that the next female orphaned elephant be named "Sally" in her memory. We are proud to honour the memory of brave Sally Dunne, whose spirit will walk with this elephant the wild places of Africa she so loved in life.

However "Sweet Sally" presented us with a challenge because she flatly refused milk for an entire week. No amount of pleading and coaxing could persuade her to take even a drop, whether it be in rehydration salts, in a bucket of water, and definitely not via a nipple on the bottle. In desperation, we summonsed Keeper Mishak from Tsavo to come and work his magic. Mishak Nzimbi has been with us 14 years, and is the best loved of all the Keepers by all the orphans, irrespective of origin or age. Added to the feeding difficulties, this little newcomer, aged about 6 months, went into deep grieving for her elephant family, and developed intestinal bleeding stress ulcers which are always very life threatening.

However, whilst Keeper Mishak and Keeper Julius between them gradually began to work their magic, and massive doses of colloidal silver helped heal the stress ulcers, the other Nursery inmates also played a vital role in persuading little "Sally" that life has not ended after all, but was just about to begin again, in a different way - that she was still loved and wanted, by both them and the Keepers. Slowly, we have watched her coming back to life, and now she is feeding well and even playing well. When she came in, all she wanted to do was die.

Mulika instantly adored the baby, having always been a little jealous of the fact that Nasalot was preferred by Mweya. Mulika rallied around instantly to take charge of the newcomer, and it was interesting to see Nasalot standing aside to allow her to do this. Meanwhile Mweya was not so sure, and went around with one ear up, sizing up the newcomer sideways! Since then, she and Sweet Sally have struck up a deep friendship, and we are confident now that the newcomer has turned the corner, both physically and psychologically.

We are pleased to report that Mweya is becoming better behaved, although at visiting hours every now and then a twinkle comes into her eye and she forgets herself, particularly when she spots children amongst the onlookers. But by and large she is much better behaved. It took just two days armed with the dreaded little "Cattle Prod" to teach her that it is not right to bowl frail humans over, and that they are not to be treated like the chimps in Uganda!

July 2001 day to day

01 Jul

All the orphans left together as usual, separating briefly at 9.30 a.m. when Emily's group spent half an hour with a wild herd. Later she left them to return to the younger orphans and remained with them most of the day. In the early morning Nyiro and Mukwaju were very exuberant, pushing each other, but Maungu remained aloof. In the evening Imenti enjoyed a game with Uaso whom he encountered back at the Stockades with Edo and Lewa.